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For teenagers and young adults, the effects of climate change – flooding, drought, storm patterns, loss of biodiversity, and even health issues – can seem insurmountable, something far beyond the reach of one young person.
Here in the Caribbean, we’re already seeing intense bouts of flooding, storms, hurricanes, and periods of drought, all happening in close juxtaposition.
However, young people have a far louder voice than they might think, and it doesn’t have to be as intense as organising a rally or march, although that’s also an option.
Did you know? Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, every person under the age of 18 has the right to participate in the decision-making processes that impact them. This includes a public forum to express their views, and support for them to do it.
Here are five ways young people can let their voices be heard:
1. Write a letter
Seems simple, right? Writing an email or mailing a letter to your local representative seems almost too simple, but it’s a tried and true element of democracy. Are you a fan of a local musician? Write to them too, to persuade them to advocate against climate change as well.
Want to see recycling in your area? Write to your waste disposal company or agency. Seeing flooding in your area? Write to your Minister responsible for drainage.
Here’s an example of a letter written to an MP: https://bit.ly/3Eg7UQ0
Here’s a list of people you can write to:
– Your local member of Parliament
– Heads of the world’s top polluting companies
– Heads of companies who contribute to plastic pollution – In 2021 the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo were ranked as the world’s top plastic polluters for the 4th consecutive year according to Break Free From Plastic
– Your Minister of Environment, or the ministry responsible for environmental issues
– Your favourite musician, entertainer, influencer or personality – ask them to take a stand on climate change too.
2. Document your experiences
You can write about or even take videos of your experiences when it comes to climate issues. We’ve seen viral videos of flooding events, storms and more, which shows the real effect climate change can have on our lives.
With the permission of your parents or guardians, think about maybe recording videos on your experiences, how you felt with regards to the effects of climate change. Have you seen flooding in your area? Have you seen your nearby beaches being affected by erosion? Talk about it in your vlog.
Many young climate activists are also sharing their views on Tik Tok which is also an option with the approval of parents and/or guardians.
3. Collaborate with friends and classmates
Often, it can seem like a daunting task to do alone, but with the help of friends it can be a fun process.
Consider getting together with friends or classmates to think of climate change topics and brainstorm how you can get more people to talk about it.
Think of a class project where you can encourage other young people to have their ideas heard. Many websites such as WordPress, Blogger and Weebly have free options for creating an online forum on topics. For those under 18, make sure to get the permission of your parents/guardians first.
4. Do your research
Climate change is a wide topic, mainly because it affects everything around us – the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and even how we live. You can start by asking your teacher or parents for easy reading on climate change and finding out more about it.
Some words you can read up on include:
- carbon emissions
- global warming
- loss and damage
- carbon market
- nature-based solutions
and more – see here for more terms courtesy UNICEF: https://www.unicef.org/lac/media/19321/file/climate-glossary-for-young-people.pdf
5. Don’t stop after one try
It may seem like your efforts were unsuccessful if you don’t see results after one attempt, however, often it takes numerous efforts before you can see results.
Don’t be dissuaded if your letters aren’t responded to or you can’t seem to get people interested. As they say, the Caribbean wasn’t built in a day!
Do you have more tips to help young people with climate advocacy? Let us know in the comments. (Loop News )